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Issue Order Against “Pradhan Pati” System and Give Women Pradhans Their Due

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I am Vimlesh Kumari and I hold the post of Pradhan (the elected head) in my village. This is a matter of great pride not just for me but also for my family and the larger village community.

That's because, I am one of the first Mahila Pradhan who is actively heading village affairs. Unlike my dear predecessors who were as capable as I but were unfortunately undermined and not allowed to do their job.

We have all heard the popular saying that goes: behind every successful man is a woman. But in my case it is the other way around. My husband backs me one hundred percent but never interferes as I execute my role. This lets me be a truly hands-on leader. I preside over meetings and take decisions on important matters that affect the welfare of our village. 

It is all because of the 73rd Amendment of our Constitution that women like me have found a place in village politics and governance. But sadly and shockingly, a vast majority of Women Pradhans have been left powerless by a shameful practice called “Pradhan Pati”.

Simply put: Women Pradhans exist only on paper. Once elected, they are sidelined and left being a mute spectator by their husbands or male members of the family, who preside over meetings, take decisions, meet higher officials on her behalf.

A recent field monitoring report by UNICEF highlights how grave the problem is.

In its report of 10 districts in my state Uttar Pradesh, UNICEF found that 7 out of 10 Women Pradhans did not know about their constitutional rights. Only 2 women knew what their role and responsibilities as a Pradhan are.

This means that in reality it is not 33%, as envisaged by our Constitution but barely 3% true representation for women in village politics. The picture is grim in Madhya Pradesh and other states in the Hindi belt as well.

The fact that these “Pradhan Patis” operate openly and meet government officials, administrative staff and the police means that this practice is accepted and allowed by one and all. No wonder it is so rampant and continues to thrive.

Various state governments have tried to tackle this practise but it hasn't yielded the expected result. The reason being that our bureaucracy has acceptance for "Pradhan Pati" system.

As a Woman Pradhan, I will not stand by and allow our Constitution and all women to be disrespected. That is why I have started this campaign asking governments to:

1. Issue orders so that there is complete boycott of "Pradhan Pati" by bureaucracy.
2. Stop addressing Mahila Pradhans' husband or family members as "Pradhan"
3. Create awareness on this issue through advertisements in media.

Sign and share my petition so that India’s women are empowered in the truest sense by making their participation in village politics a reality.

Join hands with me so that we can wipe out the practice of “pradhan patis” once and for all.

Image credit: GaonConnection.

Click here if you want to sign my petition in Hindi.